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More construction begins at University of Mary Washington

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The future Campus Center at the University of Mary Washington will house the dining hall, a ballroom, retail stores and student offices. Crews tore down Chandler Hall to build the Campus Center. The project costs $43 million. / Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi

The future Campus Center at the University of Mary Washington will house the dining hall, a ballroom, retail stores and student offices. Crews tore down Chandler Hall to build the Campus Center. The project costs $43 million. / Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi

The University of Mary Washington has kicked off its latest construction project, the $14.3 million renovation of Woodard and Mercer halls.

Woodard, which serves as the campus center, will become the College of Business. And Mercer, home of the Office of Judicial Affairs and the Honor Council, will house the psychology department.

Both departments were displaced by the demolition of Chandler Hall in 2013.

Contractor W.M. Jordan, the same company that is putting the finishing touches on the campus’ nearly completed Information and Technology Convergence Center, is handling construction on this newest project.

Rick Pearce, vice president for administration and finance at UMW, said that though the fencing to block off pedestrian routes to the site was postponed because of snow, work inside the buildings began Monday.

The initial phase includes checking for asbestos. Depending on what is found during that inspection, demolition will begin soon after.

The renovation, which is slated to be finished by April 2015, will create functional classroom and office space in both buildings.

Pearce said the renovation will create “high-functioning spaces” for two of the university’s most popular departments.

Pedestrian traffic behind the halls will be rerouted to Campus Walk, and a small number of parking paces behind Woodard Hall will be affected by the construction.

Mercer Hall is considered a historic building on campus. Completed in 1950 as the school’s infirmary and named after Revolutionary-era Fredericksburg physician Hugh Mercer, it was the first building finished in one of the university’s biggest building booms.

According to William B. Crawley’s “A Centennial History” of UMW, the school built Mercer Hall, student activities building Lee Hall, the duPont fine arts center, Pollard and Melchers halls, and the Mason and Randolph dormitories within five years.

Pearce said to retain the historical integrity of the building, the façade will remain unchanged. The windows will be replaced with more energy-efficient, but similar-looking, windows.

Woodard Hall was completed in 1986 and has always served as the campus center.

The Eagle’s Nest dining hall and post office will remain open throughout the renovation and after the completion of the new campus center.

However, the Great Hall—an event space on Woodard’s second floor—will be turned into classrooms and offices along with the rest of the second floor, as will the former student lounge called the Wash Room on the first floor.

The Campus Center, which is currently under construction off College Avenue where Chandler Hall once stood, will have a new Great Hall for events. The $43 million, 108,000-square-foot center is on schedule to open in the fall of 2015.

The building will feature a dining hall, food court, retail store, meeting spaces, student lounge and offices for student clubs.

How Seacobeck Hall, the current dining hall, will be used after the completion on the Campus Center is still undecided.

The other construction project underway on campus—the nearly $26 million Information and Technology Convergence Center—is on schedule to open in the fall.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

 

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